Why the foot should be on the brake when you start a car and....crabs!
I'm very proud to present this episode we talk about why you shouldn't start a car with your hand through the window. And we also talk about my experience with a Bentley laying rubber in reverse into a new Rolls Royce. And...the crabs-falling-on-new-Bentleys story.
2:25 Clay on starting cars without your foot on the clutch and brake (and the consequences.
6:23 "Luck over skill- anytime!"
7:27 Private flights to events
9:25 the comradery that has never been since
10:56 sideways in a Lotus Esprit
11:36 Jeff with the CEO of a prominent battery company wrecks a new Bentley into a new Rolls-Royce.
19:49 customers with secret garages
23:59 On talking customers out of a purchase or a modification
27:13 the crabs being dropped on new Bentleys
30:55 on "windfall receivers" running low on money
Clay Curtis - Part 3
Mon, 2/22 5:37PM • 31:35
car, customer, bentley, people, rolls royce, relationships, dealership, paint, shifter, athlete, flies, drive, talk, big, foot, clients, bingo, front, lotus, sold
Jeff Sterns 00:00
Jeff Sterns connected through cars and part three of clay Curtis I'm very proud to present this episode we talk about why you shouldn't start a car with your hand through the window. And we also talk about my experience with a Bentley laying rubber in reverse into a new Rolls Royce. That and more coming up make sure to subscribe at the bottom so you get notifications of new videos and leave a comment tell a friend to see it then.
So I hit that thing it's in reverse it flies
Jeff Sterns 00:34
backwards and he got this car going so sideways for so long. And this I mean a mid engine v 820 300 pound and he gets this car sideways and we go all the way up the lawn sideways. The car lays rubber in reverse goes straight into the Rolls Royce Serriffe
we really like people right? And so we like we like to make people feel good, right we're we're servers right? We like to we like to see the reaction that from somebody that you've done something really good for, like that one athlete whose car came in subject to the car being as described but what looks like strippers with stilettos. We're doing jumping jacks in the back seats. Yeah. burnable and it had a bunch of tips and duties in it or to fly into the rafters. They dropped the crabs from the top of the rafter rafters all the way to the floor it would break open the shell and they were able to eat the meat. Except when the warehouse is filled with a bunch of brand new Bentley's.
Jeff Sterns connected through Guys, if they're big wigs, we'll have him on the show. And yes, we'll talk about cars and everything else. Here he is now, Jeff Sterns.
And so Lotus is the new Elisa's. We're new that year. So this is probably what oh five, yes, like that. So we're in downtown celebration, which is like Disney Wonderland, right. And I'm working the crowds. I have a set out of cars. And so I have one person that's really interested in buying one and he wanted to drive it and I knew he was legit, because he and I circled the ring a little bit of the past. And so I said, Listen, you know, when the show ends, and everyone's starting to pack up, I'll let you go for a drive right. So I don't know if any of you viewers in podcast land know this or not. But the Lotus Elise is have a push button start. Okay, they're all manual, push buttons start. So I reached into the car like I've done 1000 times grab the shifter, make sure it was in neutral. Without getting in it. You know, I wanted the guy to get it and I was doing I was presenting the car to him to drive past drivers doors open. I'm standing right in the the 90 degree point of that open door. And I'm going to get it fired up for him and let him take it for a spin already have a driver's license everything I hit the hit the starter but keys are in hit the starter button. car was still in reverse. So when I hit that thing, in celebration, they have iron trash cans that are bolted into the concrete on the ground. So I hit that thing it's in reverse it flies. And I'm standing next to a trash another trash can that's like by my door. It flies backwards. smashes the whole rear Now, again, for those viewers out there. A Lotus Elise had four body parts, two doors, front clamshell, rear clamshell. That's it, right. So it was slamming this iron in front of this guy in front of like customers and like in you know people around. It's it slams into the width, it's back into the iron trashcan that doesn't budge, thank God. But as it does that the door catches on like a pole that I was sitting next to and bends it forward. So the door gets snapped the front, the front clamshell get snap, and the car's got 13 miles on it. And the guy looks at me and says I guess the test drive like no test drive. So I had it dragged into the trailer brought back to the dealership. Our leader illustrious leader at the time, looks at me and gives me the riot act. He's like you've busted three out of four panels on this car. And it's totally your fault. And I'm you know this is on you. You gotta sell this car like this is on you. This is your problem. You fucking fix it right. So I'm sweating it man. I mean, I'm I think I'm gonna lose my job. Like I don't even know if I would be insurable through the dealership which is a whole nother story. So I'm really sweating it. And so it gets put back in the body shop to get worked on and everything. They hadn't sprayed it yet. They've just got the new clamshells in. And I have a client of mine that I sold a bunch of Bentley's to. And he comes in and looks me in the eye and I'm like, Tony, you know what's up? You know, you know you want to we look at another Bentley here and he goes, Nah, I just, I just got engaged. And my girl wants one of them lotuses, he goes, here's the catch, because she wants it to be painted to match her favorite nail polish. She goes, how much is this going to cost me and please be gentle. Right? Perfect. Perfect. I take it back to the body shop. They're just putting the clamshells on. They haven't sprayed them yet. What color do you want?
Show it to me.
I'll say give me a sample. I'll paint it for free. Because I have to do it. Anyway. I told him the whole story. I'm like, Listen, this wasn't wrapped. It was just cracked clamshell crack clamp. So it's got 13 miles on it. And you know, a new door panel. And I was like, I'll paint it for you for free. If you pay me sticker for the car. And he's like, do make it happen. We painted it a metallic pink. And he took delivery of it three weeks later. And that was all she wrote.
Jeff Sterns 06:18
That's a beautiful story.
Sometimes it's bad, like you'd like you always say sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
Jeff Sterns 06:28
For sure. Yep. And when I mentioned the Lotus going up on the lawn, I after I said it, and you started telling your story, I realized that that was me. That happened to we were down. So for the listeners how we would market these cars. And when clayed mentioned that before he started that we made them go to a lot of events. We used to have a friend. Well, we made friends with a transporter named Ron. And he got a three car hauler that he would tow behind a diesel pickup fifth wheel.
Jeff Sterns 07:01
And he was so great because we would have events down at private residences in Sarasota or the Ritz Carlton Sarasota or the Jetport, Naples or the whatever, wherever, whatever, Lakeland Speedway, and he just come pick up three cars that we were going to put on display or two trips for six cars. We were doing this like two three times. And we were wearing tuxedo 123 times. I mean, it was crazy. Yeah, we were in flying that private. We were chartering that prop plane, the King Air. Oh my god the king. No, I think it was a twin Baron, a twin Baron daubs a bit down to down to Davey, we're talking about Steve Fox Clearwater aviation. still talk to him, by the way, and I'll have to have him on. So I mean, we were just doing this so often, that we would just charter a prop plane. So we could work and make our phone calls as late as possible. That's really all it was about, it wasn't about being a big shot, because we were going to drive two or three hours a direction, so at least we could do it in
an hour. And with all this stuff did it actually was less than commercial.
Jeff Sterns 08:08
Yeah. So in Ron, the truck driver would have the cars on display when we got to wherever we were going. And I remember at the party in Naples at a, I think this was play, I think this was at some like $14 million house in Naples, that the developer or the realtor wanted us to invite our customers to, for obvious reasons to see the house. And we were happy to have them in the drive. The motor courts use me as woody would say, the motor club.
Jeff Sterns 08:46
and one of our very, very good customers that I won't name here but you know, him. Young, good looking guy with no one to play with all the time over. asks me if he could drive Lotus Asprey and we're in this neighborhood, how can I say no to the guy? No, very, very good customer buying cars from us all the time hanging out with the other dealership friends All the time. And the listener needs to know that we had a liquor cabinet and snacks and these customers. We would
get oxygen pumped in there and have no clocks on the walls. But
Jeff Sterns 09:25
it was like it was it was like a speakeasy. I mean, it was when the when we close the place. They'd come in and start meeting there and meeting each other and pulling with their cars. It was it was really quite a dynamic that I don't think many dealerships or clients of dealerships enjoyed. And I don't think that particular places had quite that vibe.
No, I totally forgotten about that. That was truly one of the things that made us unique. We would socialize with our customers while they were going through their purchase. And of course, your rule was always No drinking while
Jeff Sterns 10:02
they can drink you ain't gonna drink.
We ain't gonna drink. Yeah,
Jeff Sterns 10:06
it was like Schindler's List let the Nazis know this guy who was our phenomenal customer. lets me know that he's got race training and he really wants to go try this a spree. I think he had a couple of cocktails. I'm trying to talk him out of it. But how do you say no to this guy who might buy a car every six weeks? I mean, you know come with his friend. So we go out in the Lotus of spree and we're still in this neighborhood under development. Thank God I mean, I could imagine someone pushing their baby buggy across the street and someone's lawn went up not at a 45 degree but at a 25 degree and he got this car going so sideways for so long. And this I mean a mid engine v 820 300 pound and he gets this car sideways and we go all the way up the lawn sideways. All I mean, I'm like, how can we be going up hill we're like going up hill. We're not stopping. We're not stopping. I'm waiting to stop. We're not stopping. We're going up the hill and we actually had to have run the trans we walked back to the party because it was buried the belly pan was stuck on the ground. And Ron, the transporter were like hey, man, we're heading to the airport. right you know, to the propeller plane to take us home. Have fun getting the stuck a spree that's 15 feet up this lawn. So I want to say yellow, but I don't know.
We had a yellow blue and gray before?
Jeff Sterns 11:39
I don't I don't know. But yeah, I have to tell the story about related to your, the lease with the stick shift hitting the starter button. Yes. And this is really you're saying you're giving the show back to me. But this is really about you. I mean, it's really about the guests. But you know, forget it. I'm taking over on
Jeff Sterns 12:03
So customer comes in. just retired CEO of a very large well known if I said the name, you'd know the name of the company. I'll say it was a battery company. One of the batteries you see when you get a pack of batteries at the grocery store, one of the big but three or something. And he goes Hi I'm so and so. I just retired CEO of x battery. And he was so cute about it. I love the guy because he said you know the one that makes the blank blank battery like like I wouldn't know this battery that you see on a TV commercial six times a night. I'm not saying the name of the batter. He wants a Bentley or not. He has not bought a car. He's had a company car for like 30 something years. He's never had to buy a car. He says I've never I haven't bought a car since I was a kid. Don't hurt me. So for the listener, let me set this up. Our dealership looked like a southern plantation mansion with white pillars out front. The behind that let's say large pillared house was a space between it and the shop that had Orleans I think for SARS.
I'm a service rod.
Jeff Sterns 13:26
right but I'm trying to describe it four or five lanes and I mean a painted floor I mean dead clean. It was all covered. So we used to keep cars underneath this. Four or five lane wide driveway that went probably five car lengths long. But when going in and going out. We have a new Bentley Arnage. I want to say 99 and we have a new Rolls Royce silver, Sara. Also 9999 are all part because it was probably a nightmare because we only had a couple cars before we got heavy in cars Park one in front of the other. Even the Bentley I recall the color was sunset. So that would be like that. Even beer, maroon, maroon burgundy Ruger, with a Magnolia which is a cream leather and the thing was gorgeous. With all the wood and all the smell, you know 12 cow 12 cows died for the interior is what he would say. And we're sitting in the car and I'm explaining everything. Now in front of us. In the service drive in the shade are about 15 people playing bingo on a retired church. Bingo board that was sitting on a base it was like green indoor outdoor grass, carpet, whatever Gray was astroturf. It was a big bingo board with numbers on it. And we had a girl that worked in the dealership who did our PR and She spin the ball and spin the wheel and the balls would fly around and she called a ping pong ball out with a number and call it and these people were sitting in like student chairs with the little desk in front playing Bingo. These were the retired Cadillac DeVille drivers that we're waiting for their car in service there was 10 or 15 of those in front of us. All right. Behind us is the rolls in the lane. In front of us are the bingo players. Probably 1015 feet in front of us. While the cars running you in also your Ford GT story made me think of it when you told the guy slow down his foot. This fella his foot is on the gas. The car is so quiet. I mean, these Bentleys and rolls, you'd roll the window down, you'd hear the lawnmower next door, you roll the window up, you don't hear it. Triple pane glass installation, the cars revving I look over at the tack, it's probably 2020 220 300 rpm. While we're sitting there and Park, I'm getting ready to tell him he probably thinks his foots on the brake. Because no one would put their foot on the gas like that while you're in park. These cars had a cork, that the shifter on the center console and a Bentley, all you had to do is lift the shifter, you didn't have to push a safety button or anything like you'd lift or release, you'd lift the shifter and just pull it back and it would flop into reverse. I mean, the beauty of it is it felt like silk it felt like nothing was the danger of it was we were going however many rpm. I'm about to tell him that his foots on the gas, not freaked out about it until I see his hand reach for the shifter. And I say his name and I literally put my hand around his hands around his leg and pull back on his leg I probably shaved a few 100 RPM, I already was taking the pressure off his leg and I'm waiting for him to throw it in Drive. And I got 10 or 15 retirees in student chairs playing bingo in front of us. And this is a 5500 pound car with 500 foot pounds of torque. Or that was maybe the first year so it might have been the 4.4 liter so it might have only been 400. And you know, foot pounds
or an 87 Yeah, right,
Jeff Sterns 17:29
Thank God, he threw it in reverse. The car lays rubber in reverse, goes straight into the Rolls Royce surf breaks the parking pin on the Rolls Royce saref. And it's like and just rolling back into the open space of the drive back there.
Oh my god, he
Jeff Sterns 17:54
does manage to get his foot off the gas onto the brake and I do manage to throw it in park form and he is white. And I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go. And I'm like, you know, I spent an hour and a half with the guy I heard the battery story. I liked him a lot. He's on the car that he wants, we're gonna get ready to go for a test drive.
Now you want to leave that you know those we've all been in those situations. And
I think what what another thing that separates those that are good at what they do and this in this industry and not is still being able to be unflappable, you know, and and making the customer feel good, even though they screwed up. How many times have we seen customers come in and, you know, they dropped a weed whacker on their front quarter panel or, you know, their wife walked by the car with her fancy purse with a bunch of like metal bling on it and like, like shifted up and stuff, you know, that that's one of the things we talked about before earlier in the podcast about, you know, sometimes some dishonesty with, you know, with the clients, but this was also you know, you had to also be able to parry to listen, you know, they're coming to you in need, they're bummed out, they know they made a mistake, right? And you need to be there to give them the hug and tell them it's okay. And now we're their therapist. Yes. Yes, we were their priests. Right. And that's truly what it was like, and listen, they would they would they would tell us things that they wouldn't tell anybody else. Right? I mean, we kept count how many? How many times a week keep confidences between customers and significant others?
Jeff Sterns 19:39
Oh, I mean, yeah, I mean, it was and it wasn't all bad stuff like oh no, tell her about trying to surprise them with kollel. Or how about the customer that in their condo had a parking garage floor that the wife didn't know about with half a dozen cars on it. They get off the elevator for their two cars. She didn't know there was another six. And he's like, I'm trading them in you can't say anything to her. I don't really want to say her name because it's a real story. I can't say anything to her. But you can send the truck, I'll meet you on that floor, don't call, don't leave messages, don't do anything. And I'll bring my for trade. Oh my god. But this fella that crashed the Bentley into the rolls. So I've got a couple of $250,000 stickers that we crashed into each other. I did let him know that it happens all the time. And he needs to calm down and not beat himself up happens all the time. And all the time. It was only the bumper cover on each car, thank god other than the parking pin on the rolls. And I did sell him that car.
Well, of course he did. He was obligated.
Jeff Sterns 20:48
Well, I was a little nervous, because after I calmed down, he still had to go. And I call him however many days later that it's fixed. And can we talk about it again? And, and, you know, he was just a little too messed up, you know, he just couldn't,
whatever, but there's the sorts of things I truly like you said, we're therapists when these people say Listen, man, you know, that stuff happens. I just last week, you know, I I crashed a $400,000 fan, I'm long wheelbase into a lotus. Like it's okay. Your you know, even as a true Your job is to make them feel comfortable and make them feel good in that, that that stuff happens. And and truly I think, you know, at the crux of sales, and especially the automobile business, it's approximate was like you said, we really like people. Right? And so we like we like to make people feel good, right? We're, we're servers, right? We like to, we like to see the reaction that from somebody that you've done something really good for.
Jeff Sterns 21:50
Right? You know, that's why we still remember who they are 15 years later.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, you have relationships, you vacations with them, you know, your wives were best friends. I mean, you know, we've all had those kinds of relationships. But you know, I think and that high end side of the business, you know, relationships are everything. And you know, and people say that as a cliche, and all sorts of different sales or business things, you know, you'll listen to all you know, all sorts of, you know, guys telling you relationships are key, but truly like in this business, it was the case. I mean, I know you, you were the same as I was where after you did a couple deals with your clients, or, you know, with a new client with cars, when you finally prove to them that you treat them right, and you take care of like, I've never once lied to a customer outright, right? Never. And once they once they
Jeff Sterns 22:48
wait a minute, other than the kind of lie that would be like, do these pants make my butt look big? Kind of? Well,
of course, yes. Your wife is beautiful. Yeah, of course, of course. But never about the purchase of a car, right?
Jeff Sterns 22:59
No, no, you'd be straight. If they asked you a question. You answered straight. Yes, yeah.
But you know, it got to the point where, you know, you had a customer come back to you, you sold a few cars to and negotiations were tough the first few times, but you were honest with him, you were legit, you did what you say you were going to do when you said you are going to do it, right. So then the next time they come in car free, they're like, Hey, is what I'm looking at. Same Same deal as before, like you take care of me. Of course, when you want it delivered, I'll do the paperwork on your kitchen table. And at that point, it got to be where there's almost no negotiations, you know, the negotiations happen, you know, if somebody wanted a car, we were able to provide it to them, and they knew they're getting taken care of the only time so negotiations really started happening is when we had something really rare, or they were trying to trade is something really not good, right? Or we had a hard time placing or something like that. That's where you got into the next but it was a straight by then, you know, and as you had clients, you would prep them for valuation of the car that they just bought, when they when they traded in a year. You know, like I had a client who who was a an athlete, and he bought a phantom. And he wanted to put 24 inch rims on it and paint it purple. And I said, athlete x, if you paint this car purple, it will be $200,000 less than what it would be if you left it to factory when you trade it in to me. And when you put this 24 hours on it. You're putting baloney skins on your rims and the ride is going to be terrible. You're going to hate it and you're going to call me and tell me that the ride is terrible. And I'm going to tell you, it's not the car. It's your rims. And so he's like, I know I got it. And lo and behold these common traits car back in a year and a half later, and it's purple with those big rims all chopped up and no wheel wells off shoot and everything. I mean, I told him I don't even know if I could put a number on the car, right? How many times a week could like your car is so like, like, like, I have to be careful using names like that one athlete whose car came in subject to the car being as described, but what looks like strippers with stilettos. We're doing jumping jacks in the back seats. Yeah. burnable. And it had a bunch of tips and duties in it. Yeah, 100 yards to speaker wire. So, you know, those are sort of things that I think when you're in the sales process, you develop such relationships that, you know, it's it's almost, obviously without screwing them up and messing them up. It becomes more of a socializing, relationship driven thing. There's almost no sales involved. Unless you get sideways with somebody, it's more that you're maintaining the relationship with the person you're maintaining, you know, that consistency of doing what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it and, and that for all the listeners out there. That's something that's invaluable in life lessons alone, alone. And if you can develop relationships with people that are extremely wealthy and are always trying it and always have people trying to chew into what they're doing, and, you know, people trying to, you know, get their pound of flesh and everything. When you can get to the point where you can gain and maintain the trust of people like that
an environment like car sales, then you've really it's a talent, and it takes it takes maintenance, you have to water those flowers.
Jeff Sterns 26:53
And you know what, it also takes some things going wrong, because some of the best relationships I've developed were when something just absolutely mind bendingly terrible happen are falling off a lift, brand new car coming in with paint worker paint, the painted taillight right off the truck
is about the crabs being dropped on the cars and the guys being dropped on the cars in the warehouses in the Bentley's Do you remember that?
Jeff Sterns 27:22
Maybe that was after me. I don't think I'd forget that one.
With that, you know, Bentley had to change the way they used to bring their cars into South Carolina to Charleston, right was the port of entry form, at least for us, southerners are our sub se viewers. And we started receiving cars, you know, they're in a bag and everything you know, zipped up yet for those of you that don't know, they literally came in like a Ziploc and when you did your PDI which is known as a breeding every inspection, and you know, you pull all that off, you get it prepped and ready and everything done. But we are having pin pinhole type dents and the hoods, or the bonnets and the roofs of these brand new cars that are coming from factory and nobody could figure out what happened until finally they went to the factory and someone just stood I mean, not the factory at that warehouse where they are keeping the car so it's the offloaded them. And someone just stood in there was like what's happening in here. bird flies in with a crab because the top was open birds that fly into the rafters they drop the crabs from the top of the rafter rafters all the way to the floor it would break open the shell and they were able to eat the meat. Except when that warehouse is filled with a bunch of brand new Bentley's they're still trapped with these crabs off the top of these rafters and they're hitting the hoods and they're hitting up you know the roof and they're leaving little pinhole dead senate and stuff they had to move they had to move from Charleston to Jersey, I believe. Not quite sure about jersey, but they had to move like all production and input because of birds with craps.
Jeff Sterns 29:09
That is gold. And that is the teaser that's gonna go to the front of this podcast.
Jeff Sterns 29:18
That's what we were looking for. So what about I mean, like, for example, I remember our service manager in exotic cars also develop some relationships. And I remember an athlete that would call him one or two in the morning to come pick him up at the private airport. We were just talking. I was talking to him the other day and we're he says, How about that story for your podcast? And some of these, I don't want to say athletes, but I want to say people that came into windfalls. So this could be lottery winner. This could be someone that sold a business this could be someone that got an inheritance, this could be a ballplayer, they got a bonus. But people that came into windfalls. I mean, I know there's books been written about lottery winners that go broke and all that. But we experienced and witnessed many people that any of any of us normal, normal people would have been set for life. On that check.
We are so normal people were
Jeff Sterns 30:25
normal people. All right. How about this? Me? Maybe you would have been set for life on a multi million dollar or $10 million or $100 million. One time or many year pays. Yeah. And we saw some of them, go through all of it, and go into debt. So I remember this service manager. Well, Billy, actually took one of these people that he sold, you know, God knows how many cars too, and was lending him power bill money. That one time lending the customer power bill money, who'd spent 10s of millions of dollars on cars over a few years. Would you spend 10s of millions of dollars on cars, I can't imagine spending 10s of million dollar car if I didn't have a whole bunch of 10s of millions left.
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